ROCHWater shortages, domestic violence education, standardized testing and sustainable agriculture were just a few of the research areas showcased by Utah State University undergraduate researchers at the Utah State Capitol last month.

Fifty students representing the state’s two premier research universities presented their research to legislators and the public during the 2016 legislative session. Research on Capitol Hill is the annual demonstration of Utah State University and the University of Utah’s nexus of two missions; to cultivate diversity of thought and knowledge and then engage in outreach to better the state and its communities.

“We’re excited to share the work of students across disciplines whose findings solve technical problems, inform policy decisions and help us to understand the diversity and complexity of the world around us,” said Scott Bates, associate vice president for research at USU.

State legislators and their representatives, including Cache County Representative Ed Redd (R-Utah) interacted with students from their districts and discussed findings.

USU’s Matthew Barnett of Blanding, Utah presented his research on links between outdoor recreation and environmental concerns among Utahns. The Department of Sociology, Social Work and Anthropology student found that those engaged in water recreation — fishing, boating, etc… — viewed actions to conserve Utah water more positively than those who do not.

With the state’s population expected to double in the next fifty years, Barnett said his research will be instrumental in the planning and preparation for Utah’s present and future water challenges, giving the state “a better shot at meeting our goals for sustainability.”

“By understanding the social processes that drive people’s perceptions about water, it contributes to a body of knowledge and a well-informed public, leading to well-directed education initiatives,” he said.

Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services student Randi Hovey presented her research on the link between cognitive status and motivation to make lifestyle changes to present Alzheimer’s disease. Her findings demonstrate that motivational tools, like a smartphone app or fitness bracelet, helped motivate groups to make healthy lifestyle choices, which decreases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

“We’ve all been touched by Alzheimer’s in one way or another,” Hovey said. “Any funding that could go into a way to cure or prevent the disease is well spent.”

In an address to attendees, Lt. Gov. Spencer J. Cox thanked students for their dedication to research, noting the significance of their findings in the solution to local and state problems.

“We have issues that need to be solved and we need great minds to do that,” he said.

Manda Perkins, RGS Communications: manda.perkins@usu.edu